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The Great Change – Earthly to Heavenly

In my last post, we saw the two different perspectives that we can have as believers.  You can live for the world with the dirt mentality.  You can live for Christ with an eternal focus.  That’s an important choice because the material things of this earth are not transferrable to the heavenly kingdom.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

As we exist right now, with our body made of dirt, we cannot inherit God’s kingdom.  That’s a problem.  But if you’re in Christ, there’s no need to worry about it.  God has the solution.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

There’s coming a day when everything changes.  When the passage says that we will not all sleep, he’s talking about the sleep of death.  We’re not all going to die.

There are some of us who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ.  At that moment, we will be changed.  Our soulish bodies will be immediately converted into new, spiritual bodies.

If you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, the dead are not left out.  As a matter of fact, those who die in Christ are the first to receive their new bodies.  Then, we get ours.

That’s good news.  I can’t enter into my eternal life in God’s kingdom with my present fleshly body.  So God arranged to have it changed into a heavenly body.  It’s something I could have never hoped for apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

I love Paul’s description of this change.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:53

The word perishable means that right now we are subject to decay.  The older we get, the more things don’t work the way they used to.

For instance, in high school, I was a powerlifter.  Now that I’m over 60, I can’t lift what I could back then.  It’s a part of the decay process.

But this verse tells us that there’s a day when we will be clothed with an inability to decay.  Even better than that, we’ll be given an inability to die.  That’s a day to look forward to!

It’s all because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  He won a great victory that day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death.  The Good News is that now, in Him, we reap the benefits of this victory.

As believers, we know that there’s nothing to fear in death.  Even more than that, we don’t need to fear the aging process.  In Christ, it’s 100% reversible.  When Christ returns I’ll be young again – forever!

Question: How do you keep the Return of Christ in focus?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Dissipation, Drunkenness, Anxiety – Signs of the Times (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Jesus tells us that because of our knowledge of future events, our lives should be different from the world. We have a mission before us that’s time-sensitive. Those things that hinder us from effectively sharing the Gospel of Christ must be put away.

The Lord spoke of dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover. We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol.

Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”. Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation.

They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Drunkenness, then, is the actual pursuit of worldly pleasures. You can become intoxicated on more than just alcohol. Power, money, sports, and a host of other distractions can rob you of your effectiveness in God.

Does that mean that all these things are sins? Absolutely not! But if you find yourself more involved in these temporary things than in your walk with God, then your priorities are messed up.

The third warning the Lord gives us is to beware of the anxieties of life. We’re not to be so overwhelmed by our cares that it hinders our walk with God.

When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Jesus said that the temptation to fall into these traps would come on all people – no exceptions. There will be no free rides. He’s warning us about the future so that we’ll be ready.

That’s why He said that if you’re watchful, awake, and alert, you could pray to escape some of these things. Literally, it means to run away from. I believe that if we seek God’s wisdom, we’ll be protected from much of the pain that will come to the earth. Of course, that means we need to listen for God’s voice of instruction, and then obey Him when He speaks.

I believe that the last days of this age are going to be the most exciting time period that any Christian could be a part of.

Question: What emotions does the thought of Christ’s return stir up in you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Christmas Eve Excitement

The countdown started well before Thanksgiving, and with each passing day, the excitement and preparations for its arrival have been accelerating.  Lights and decorations have been put up, stores are full, and music is filling the air.

A lot of people, especially children, are eagerly anticipating a very special event that will take place tonight.  Truly, it’s a very busy time of the year!

And it’s all in preparation for what?  Well, any child can tell you – “A visit from Santa Claus, of course!”

And remember, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! You better not pout, you better not cry – you better watch out, I’m telling you why – Santa Claus is coming to town!”

Maybe some, but not me.

The One I’m waiting for won’t be coming from the North Pole and riding in a sleigh.  Instead, He’s coming from Heaven, and arriving on the clouds of the sky!  Millions all over the world are waiting for His arrival.

He will also be bringing gifts with Him.  The good news is that His gifts are not based on how good I’ve been, but by His grace.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Take the time today to consider Jesus…to get excited about His coming.

I think that it’s fun to watch the excitement grow on the faces of our children as Christmas approaches.  With each passing day the grins grow, the adrenaline level rises, and the expectation almost bursts from every pore.

We should be even more excited!  Children are excited about the coming of a round man in a red suit with toys tucked under his arm.  You and I can be excited about the coming of Jesus Christ, dressed in all His radiance and riding the clouds of heaven.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

Every eye will see Him!  Not just a private return.  But when?  We know when the Christmas deadline is.  We like to be ready.

But with Christ, we only know that He’s coming, not when.  Actually – He told us that He’d arrive when we aren’t expecting Him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that Jesus is coming to town.  I don’t know the hour or the day.  I don’t know much, but there’s one thing I do know – He’s coming to town!

He’s coming back for those who’ve received Him as King and Lord of their life.  When He comes back there’ll be no mistaking Him.  He won’t be riding on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.  He’ll be riding the clouds of Heaven and His radiance will flood the universe.

Where’s your excitement level this Christmas?  Are you overburdened by your list of things “to do” which seems twice as long as your children’s “wish list?”

Are you excited about seeing what you’ll find under the tree on Christmas morning?  Are you excited to see family and friends that you haven’t been with for some time?

Or…are you excited because the Lord is coming to town?

Have a blessed Christmas holiday!

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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The Truth or a Lie

In my last post, I talked about the rise of satanic activity in the Last Days before the return of Christ.  The enemy’s kingdom will perform many impressive miracles – counterfeits of the true miracles of God.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

That’s what’s happening when people go to witch doctors, shamans, or psychic healers.  It’s the same when people go to “faith healers” that don’t use the name of Jesus.

They’ll say that it’s the power of love that’s going to heal you.  No, it’s the power of Satan.  No matter what they call themselves, whether it’s healer, shaman, or witch doctor; without Christ, they rely upon the power of the devil.

Satan also knows what’s going on.  His servants are watching pretty much everyone.  He knows that your boss just got done interviewing a blonde for the secretarial position.  Then you go to a psychic on Friday.

“I need a relationship in my life.  Do you know if I’m going to meet anyone soon?”

The psychic then consults with her “spirit guides.”  (demons)

“The spirits tell me that you’re going to meet a blonde on Monday.  A lovely blonde is coming into your life.”

So you walk into work on Monday.

“Look at that.  They were right.  They really can predict the future.”

No, they just have a good communication system.  It has nothing to do with predicting the future.  Only God knows the future.  He knows it ahead of Satan.

If Satan had known the future the way that God does, he wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.  He would have seen that one coming a mile away.  The fact is, he’s very limited, but he plays really good tricks and mind games.  Paul does his best to warn us so we can be ready for them.

Along with the miracles of Satan, there will be every sort of evil that deceives those that are perishing.  At first glance, we might feel sorry for them.  If they’re being deceived then they don’t know what they’re doing.  How can they be held accountable?

But the Scripture goes on to say that they perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  That’s why God allows the miraculous, powerful delusion of Satan.  They’ve already chosen not to believe the truth of God’s Word.  The reason why they were deceived is that they didn’t want the truth.

So God said if you don’t want the truth, let Me give you something to believe in.  I’ll allow you to believe this lie if you’d rather.  Never get the idea that they’re perishing because they didn’t know.  They’re perishing because they refused to believe the truth.  And when the lie came along, they found it so much more comfortable.

I don’t know why people would rather embrace the lie.  I’ve seen and read about some of the crazy things that people do as they try to get healing, fame, and money.  Why don’t they just trust Jesus?  They probably stumble over it because it’s too easy.

They’d rather fly around the world and go see a doctor in Hong Kong who has them take special herbs that cost $500,000, but they won’t trust Jesus.  I don’t understand it.  They get a lie instead, and that’s what kills them.

As believers, we need to stand our ground in trusting the truth of God’s Word.  That’s what will see us through in these perilous times.

Question: How far have you seen people go in order to refuse the truth?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2018 in Power of God, Return of Christ, Spiritual Warfare

 

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False Signs and Wonders in the Last Days

We’re continuing to look at the Apostle Paul’s insight into life in the Last Days before the return of Christ.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
II Thessalonians 2:9-12

Paul goes on to tell us that these times will end in a Day of Judgment.  Of course, that’s what Jesus taught as well.

According to this passage, Satan will be very active.  There will be all kinds of unholy signs, wonders, and miracles.  There’s going to be a display of Satan’s power like never before.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:8

I like what Paul says here because it tells us the triumph that Christ will have over the lawless.  But there’s more to look forward to.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Paul says that there are going to be counterfeit miracles.  That gives me hope, because if there’s going to be counterfeit miracles, then there’s going to be the real thing, as well.

Remember what Jesus said.  The wheat and the weeds are going to grow together, blossom together, and mature together.  That means that if Satan is doing his worse, then God will be doing His best.

Some people ask, “How can Satan do miracles?  What kind of miracles does he do?”   The same things God does.  Satan can perform healings as well as other powerful signs and wonders.  Even today we’re seeing a rise in these things.  There are psychic “hotlines” throughout many different media outlets that attract thousands of people.

Maybe you thought that Satan could only do bad things.  Let me explain it to you.

Pretend that I came to your house tonight under cover of darkness.  While you were asleep, I broke into your house.  I then proceeded to empty your wallet, your cash box, and other valuables.  Let’s say that I stole a thousand dollars from your house.

You wake up in the morning and you’re horrified.  You see the window broken into and all your money is gone.  Later on that day, we run into each other.  You exclaim, “You don’t know what happened to me last night!  I was robbed.  A thousand dollars was taken.  Somebody broke in and stole my money.”

What if I then tell you how awful I feel about your loss?  I tell you that I just feel like blessing you.  I then reach in my wallet, and I take out the thousand dollars I stole from you and say, “Here, you take this with my blessing.”

You’ll then walk away thinking that I’m the most wonderful person in the world.  You never realized that I was the one who took your money to begin with.  I stole it from you, and then I gave it back.

In the same way, if Satan stole your health, he can give it back if it suits his purposes.  Don’t be deceived by the traps laid out by the enemy in these Last Days.  Only Jesus Christ is The Healer.  He’s the only One worthy of putting our trust in.

Question: How have you witnessed a rise in demonic activity in our generation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2018 in Healing, Return of Christ, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Rise of Lawlessness

In our study of Second Thessalonians, we’ve been talking about the lawlessness of mankind being uncovered in the Last Days.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?  And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
II Thessalonians 2:5-7

It’s clear from this section that Paul’s merely reminding them of the things he taught when he was with them.  He apparently told them what was holding back the lawlessness.

It’s also clear that the secret power of lawlessness was already at work 2,000 years ago.  What Paul literally says is that the secret power of lawlessness was already energized.

I’m reminded of a parable of Jesus (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43).  He said that the church and the world were going to grow up together.  These two kingdoms would grow in power and mature side by side throughout history.  The seeds that were planted by the enemy already had lawlessness working in them.

According to Paul, there’s something holding back the full force of this lawlessness.  Most of the modern translations add a lot of preconceived ideas to the text.  What Paul literally said in verse 7 is the restraining will continue until it is removed from the midst.

I believe he’s talking about the laws that govern us.  Back then; they had a system of government where if you disobeyed the law, you paid the penalty for your actions.  But more and more, around the world, it now seems that laws don’t mean anything.  The lawmakers tell us that it’s how you interpret that law that matters.

My wife, Cheryl, was called for jury duty a number of years ago.  She was selected to hear a drunk driving case.  It was clear from the testimony that the man was drunk, and he was driving.  He could have very easily killed somebody.  Thank God, he was caught before he did any damage to himself or others.

As they were discussing the case in the jury room, an interesting thing started to happen.  All of these jurors started seeing themselves on the stand.

“Well, I drink sometimes, and I’d hate to have a policeman take away my license because I got caught.”

“Maybe we should let this guy go because nothing happened and nobody was hurt.  After all, there was no accident and no damage.”

Those who know Cheryl understand that she has a very prophetic ministry.  If you can imagine how Elijah would’ve responded to all this, you’d be pretty close to what actually happened.

Cheryl’s response was that the question is not what we would do.  It’s not even about what we would want to happen if we were caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

The question is; was he drunk?   Was he driving?  If so, then he’s guilty, whether or not you do it as well.

They did find him guilty.  But please understand that if there wasn’t a Christian on the jury, then the outcome might have been very different.

Lawless man says, “I know what the law is, but I wouldn’t like that law if I were the one driving.”  What we will find is that this what it’s going to be like more and more in the last days.

Yes, there might be laws, but they’re going to be followed less and less.  Paul is saying that lawless man is going to be uncovered for what he really is.  In the last days, we’re going to see an increase in lawlessness the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

That’s why, more than ever, we need to trust the Lord for our safety, protection, and provision.

Question: How have you seen a rise in lawlessness over your lifetime?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Faith, Return of Christ

 

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